Internet Radio Networks

I tried to post this with LjBot (frank), but it seems LjTalk is screwed up. Yet again. I am getting really, really sick and tired of lj having random unexplained service outages. Perhaps it’s time for the LJ folks to spend less time and money on new features that nobody cares about, and more on upgrading servers so everything works?

Once wireless dataplans become affordable, radio services like Serius and XM might have some compitition! The following is a list of networks that do the same thing Serius and XM do, but on the internet: provide multiple channels of non-stop music. This is wonderful for those times you need background music, but don’t feel like the bother of making playlists or rating or selecting songs. If you’re not a Serius or XM subscriber, and/or don’t travel a lot, the best news is that all of these services are free to listen to. Assuming they don’t all get killed off by the RIAA, the day will come, in a few years, when we can have streaming internet radio in cars and on the go, as well.

First off, sky.fm. They offer free streams in 92kb mp3, and a monthly subscription gets you higher quality 128 AAC+ streams. They are the best sounding and seemingly most reliable of the networks, although they’re not always the best programmed. The channels they offer currently include: DaTempo Lounge, Classic Rock, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Smooth Jazz, Uptempo Smooth Jazz, Top Hits Music, Best of the 80s, All Hit 70s, Oldies, Mostly Classical, Classical Guitar, New Age, World Music, Roots Reggae, Urban Jamz, Classic Rap, Country, Salsa, Modern Jaz, Trance, Chillout, House, Eurodance, Ambient, Lounge, clubplanet, VocalTrance, HardDance, Progressive, Goa-PsyTrance, HardCore, DJMixes, Drum ‘n’Bass, ClassicElectronica, Breaks, Techno, Gabber, and Replay.

Another choice for those into AAC streaming and an excelent sound, without too much compression, is soma.fm. This free, indipendant radio network is supported by listener donations, not advertising. Unfortunately, it only has 11 channels currently, mostly in the electronic/ambient/background genre: Groove Salad, Secret Agent, Drone Zone, doomed, Space Station Soma, Boot Liquor, indie pop rocks, Illinois Street Lounge, Beat Blender, Tag’s Trance Trip, and cliqhop idm. If this is your sort of thing, you’ll love this network; personally, all I ever listen to is the indi channel. I don’t really understand electronic, ambient, or jazzy music all that well.

Yet another choice is 181.fm (.fm seems to be the domain to have if you’re into internet radio, I guess). They’re an add supported station (though it seems to be only ads on the website, not in the stream) streaming in 128kb mp3, with no dialup stream that I could find. The playlists offered are in .asx format, but the streaming protocol is standard shoutcast; if you’re not using windows media player or winamp you can open the playlist and extract the urls by hand. The available channels they offer are currently: Power 181 (Top 40), Awesome 80s, Star 181 (90s), Great Oldies, The Heart (Love Songs), Hits Galore, The Office, The Mix, The Buzz (Alt. Rock), Rock 181, The Eagle (Classic Rock), Rock 40 (Rock&Roll Hits), 80’s Hairband, Front Porch (Bluegrass), Highway 181, Kickin’ Country, The Breeze, Classical Guitar, Classical Jazz, Vocal Jazz, BeBop Jazz, Sensual World, Fusion Jazz, Trance Jazz, Mellow Gold, Soul, Funk, Classical Music, The Beat (HipHop/Urban), True R&B, Trinity HipHop, Energy 98, Techno Club, Business Talk Radio, and Lifestyle Talk Radio.

Continuing with the Internet Radio Networks ending in .fm trend, we move on to 1.fm. These guys seem to stream entirely in Windows Media of unknown bitrate, and show a movie advertisement before the stream can start. However, making up for the advertising and general irritation of crappy sound quality is the fact that the channels seem (from extremely brief listens) to be well programmed. The selection offered by 1.fm right now is: 50s & 60s, 80s, 90s, Blues, Bombay Beats, Chillout Lounge, Club 1, Country, Dance, Disco Ball, Flashback Alternatives, Fuego FM, High Voltage, Jamz, Luxuria Music, Otto’s Baroque Musick, Otto’s Classical Musick, Otto’s Opera House, Paranormal, ReggaeTrade, Smooth Jazz, Top 40, Trance, Urban Adult Choice, Urban Gospel, and X.

Finally, we find a network ending in .com: .977 music. They stream at 128kb shoutcast, though they offer only Windows Media Playlists. Based on a look at the shoutcast stats, this is currently the most popular Internet Radio Network in opperation, though mostly for the 80s channel; I’m not sure why, as I don’t believe it’s the best by a longshot. The stations they’ve got are: The 80’s Channel, The Hitz Channel, The Country Channel, The Rock Channel, The Oldies Channel, The Mix Channel, The Classic Rock Channel, The Comedy Channel, The 90’s Channel, and the alternative channel.

The only other radio networks I’m aware of are completely crappy: accuradio, an ad infested website that says it offers over 300 stations (but really doesn’t) and requires you to listen with Internet Explorer and Windows Media player, and iceberg radio, a crappy sounding (64kb windows media) and ad infested provider of multiple streams, run by Standard Radio (the Canadian Clear Channel).

Did I miss any you can think of? Let me know in the comments!

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